EP #76

"I Come From a Long Line of Drinkers"

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, Molly expresses gratitude for the listeners and their engagement with the show, highlighting the importance of understanding the science of alcohol and the power individuals have in transforming their relationship with it. The episode delves into challenges faced at the beginning of this journey, touching on the learning trap and the role of genetics in alcohol abuse. Watts shares personal experiences, referencing her mother’s beliefs about a genetic predisposition to alcohol use. She discusses the influence of family traditions and societal norms, using the TV show “Blue Bloods” as an example of pervasive drinking culture. Molly challenges the notion of blaming family heritage for drinking habits, urging listeners to take responsibility for their relationship with alcohol. She encourages a shift in mindset, emphasizing that the past does not dictate the future, and concludes by reiterating the podcast’s dedication to helping individuals change their drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, there’s a little sunshine out there this morning. I’m certainly not going to pin any hope to it because it’s like the middle of June now folks and I just endured a another long full weekend of nonstop rain. And I mean it was non stop rain around here in Oregon. I would like someone to turn the sprinklers off, please, sunshine. It’s what everybody wants. All right. Welcome back to the podcast. Welcome. If you are new, you know, we hit some milestones here this last week on the podcast on the podcast, we reached 100,000 downloads. That was pretty incredible. Over in the Facebook group, we reached 1000 members. And I guess when I say we I mean I but we as a group we the alcohol minimalists. And I’m just so grateful, so thankful for you finding this show, for sharing it with people for leaving reviews, and for joining me on this journey of learning more about the science of alcohol, learning more about the habits and your brain and understanding that you have power in changing your relationship with alcohol. So I really am grateful for all of you and appreciate you being here. So over in the Facebook group I actually share on Tuesdays, I share Tip Tuesday. And on Thursdays I share think Thursday. And in case you’re not a social media person, I recap that information in my newsletter. So if you’re not already signed up for that, you can go over to the website and get hooked up with the newsletter. And one of the spots that people seem to get stuck that I hear about and that I’ve that I talk about in terms of tips and tools and thinking is when they’re right at the beginning. They know they want to change their drinking habits. They’re listening to the podcast, they’re reading the books, and still they struggle with how to take action on what they are learning. And I talked about the learning trap actually last week on the podcast with my coaching friends, Brock Armstrong and Monica Ryan Nagel. And they shared some tough love about the importance of putting all of this knowledge into action and, and acknowledge that this learning trap is a real thing. And I know I’ve definitely been guilty of it in the past. What I want to share with you right now is that for those of you who are asking yourself, what’s the first thing I should do? I need to start I’m just not sure what to do first. For those of you who are just beginning this work, who want to figure out this relationship with alcohol once and for all. I’ve been working on something sweet specifically for you. It’s called Step one, and it’s coming soon, July 2022. And it’s for all of you self changers who want a framework to help you do the work and take those first steps. It’s self guided, but supported. It’s actionable, achievable, and affordable. And the best part, in my opinion, is that it’s personalized for you. So if that sounds interesting, and you’d like to learn more, please go over to www dot Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a Y watts with an s.com/step. One. That’s step one all together, like one word, and you can sign up to be notified when it’s available. And there’s a special bonus for those of you that will only be available to those of you that are on that list for step one. So check it out. Okay, on to this week’s show. If you’ve been listening to this show for any length of time, you know that I’m an adult child of an alcoholic, my mother actually died as the result of an alcoholic binge shortly, just days after her 81st birthday. And while I’m not sure because my mom and I never really talked about it, my sisters have told me that my maternal grandfather, my mom’s real dad, who was not the grandfather that I knew, but my mom’s real dad passed away when my mom was just a toddler. And supposedly it was as a consequence of alcohol abuse. Now, I don’t know if it’s true, but I know that my mom believed that her genetics contributed to if not explained her own alcohol abuse, she would tell me, I come from a long line of drinkers on my dad’s side. And that was something she routinely said to me. And now I’ve done an episode previously, I’ve done a couple of things on alcohol and genetics, specifically, there’s an in my alcohol and series, alcohol and genetics. It’s episode number 46, which I’ll link here in the show notes. So there’s that that science part of it. And I also recently talked about my mom’s alcohol use and the possibility that she had the ALD h2 genetic variant. So if you’re wanting to learn more about the science regarding alcohol and genetics, those episodes might be really valuable, so I will link those. I’m also going to say that going back and listening to the episodes with Dr. David Nutt and Dr. Addy Jaffe, are really good for diving into the whole question of alcohol and genetic predisposition. My short take, and if you’re not familiar with my stance is that while there is science on the genetics, and there is likely some genetic link to alcohol abuse, the bottom line is that you aren’t predetermined or predestined to alcoholism. If you never drank, you’d never become an alcoholic. Alcohol Use Disorder is a progressive disorder. And everyone regardless of their genetic profile starts the same way. Use increases over time you start drinking in it increases over time, until you experience more and more negative consequences, including physical dependence, your drinking patterns, habits, the amount of alcohol that you drink, are created by you. And your desire to drink is created by you and your own thinking, not your genes. Now, again, genetics isn’t really what I want to talk about on this episode. However, this episode is for you. If you’ve ever explained your drinking like this, I come from a long line of drinkers or words to that effect. Or maybe I’m Italian, we always drink a lot. Or I’m a good Irish Catholic drinking is just what we do. Or our family’s traditions wouldn’t exist without alcohol. Or simply, I learned to drink from my parents. So recently, a couple of months ago, at least my husband and I started watching Blue Bloods. Are you familiar with this show? It’s Tom Selleck. Okay. First of all, it’s actually going into its 13th season, which is amazing, because honestly, my husband and I had never heard about it until his boss recommended it to him. And it’s a cop drama, so it isn’t necessarily something we’d gravitate towards. But we both liked Tom Selleck. So we decided to give it a shot. And okay, we’re hooked now, and hey, it’s a good thing since it’s summer hiatus, and for most television shows, and there’s no football of course on right now. So we have been binging watching bluebloods, and I think we’re on Season five or four or five now. Anyways, there’s the show follows a fictional family in the New York City area, where they are all involved in the legal system, the patriarch Tom Selleck is the police commissioner of NYC. His father who lives with him was the previous police commissioner. Two sons are police officers. And there’s another son who is referred to through the characters who was a police officer killed in the line of duty. And the daughter is a lawyer who works for the DEA. They’re in New York. So it’s blue bloods, right, they’re all a part of the legal system and the police force. They are the Reagan’s, and it’s established that they are Catholic. And one would guess just from the name Irish Catholic, and drinking is very much a part of this series. Literally, they drink nightly at weekly dinners at the office at home and out at bars in restaurants. And a recent episode even included a charity event where Henry that’s the grandpa, the former PC was encouraged to drink slash over drink. And then he made some controversial remarks that were captured by a waiter and shared on social media. For someone who has done as much thought work on alcohol as I have, and who helps educate others about alcohol, it’s been very interesting to see alcohol featured so prominently in a television show. And it underscores some of these cultural family norms that I am talking about today. In my book, breaking the bottle legacy, the fundamental message that I share is that you and your beautiful, brilliant human brain are completely responsible for and capable of creating the relationship with alcohol that you have or want. You are not powerless, you are powerful, you aren’t broken, you’re not sick, and it’s not your genes. You just haven’t learned the right tools. You haven’t learned the science, you haven’t learned how your brain works. And very early on in the book, I talk about some of the big challenges to our power to change. And they include science, so both the chemistry of alcohol, and the neuroscience of habits, society. And this includes the messages we receive about alcohol from the media, blue buds being a great example of you know, a fictional television series that, again, underscores and promote really, alcohol use, right? It’s about messages from advertising, from social media, and from our social settings and including our families. And the last big challenge is the alcohol industry itself, who of course, has a very vested interest in keeping you drinking, right. So creating awareness of these challenges is part of the process because just simply being aware of how this all works and ties into your desire to drink helps to diffuse it. It’s a first step. Okay, I’m gonna go on a little tangent right now I’m giving you fair warning because it’s a little bit of a rant. All of these challenges Science Society, the alcohol industry, they are not triggers. Hashtag TW meaning hashtag trigger warning, has become synonymous with anything that is unpleasant, offensive or distasteful. Now, please understand that for those people who have truly battled substance abuse or alcohol use disorder, or for the brave people who have experienced real trauma in their lives. Triggers are very real, and they require ongoing coping strategies. For the rest of us who are using the word trigger in a more casual way, what I want you to consider is how that more casual use of trigger warning. While it probably comes from a good place, can have an unintentionally negative impact for people dealing with true trauma. For example, it leads some folks to believe that people who need trigger warnings are overly sensitive, fragile or incapable of coping with distress. People may also say that they’re triggered without a true understanding of what being triggered involves. Now, there’s also debate on whether this whole concept of trigger warnings is good or bad. Many experts believe that trigger warnings allow people who’ve experienced trauma to decide whether they’re prepared to see or read something, but others think that they’re potentially harmful to people who haven’t experienced trauma. A 2018 study of 270 people with no history of trauma suggests trigger warnings made the participants feel more vulnerable. Many reported feeling more anxious when they received a one Learning about potentially distressing content before ever reading the material at all. Triggered has taken on several new meanings in recent years, leading to a lot of confusion about what it actually means. For people who’ve experienced trauma being triggered is a very real and concerning phenomenon. And while it may not be someone’s intention, using the term to refer to something that they believe is emotional or sensitive, only adds to the stigma surrounding mental health. Okay, tangent over Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the stories we learned about alcohol from our families. I think the tangent thing came up because one of the stories that I held on to for years, which I think I used the in my mind to tell myself and what other people might mistakenly call a trigger, was that I needed to drink to make it through Thanksgiving dinner. So Thanksgiving dinner was the quote unquote, trigger, right. But honestly, not only is that not true, because there’s no trauma for me surrounding Thanksgiving. What I later came to understand was that any discomfort I felt about it was also 100%. Created by my own thinking. So here’s what I want you to consider if you’re someone who explains your drinking habits because of your family, your heritage, your traditions, if you come from a long line of drinkers, it’s simply how you got here. It’s how you learned, but it’s the past, and continuing to tell yourself that it’s why you’re here now isn’t serving you, your drinking habits, your relationship with alcohol is yours. Whether or not you choose to drink your future relationship with alcohol has nothing to do with your family, your heritage, or your traditions. I guarantee you, if you choose to, you can attend Sunday dinner, survive the holidays, celebrate birthdays, enjoy game night, regardless of whether or not you have a drink in your hand. What matters is how the stories you tell yourself, make you feel the stories about your family and about what alcohol means to your family traditions. The lessons you learned about alcohol from your parents that have gone unquestioned, those background beliefs you have about your family and your heritage, are actually creating your desire to drink. We have to be willing to do this work, we have to look for these limiting beliefs that we may not even realize are self limiting. If you’re proud of your heritage, maybe you’ve never questioned if there are some unintended consequences of that narrative. And that’s okay. You can hold on to all the pride and let go of whatever doesn’t serve you. Our family heritage and the traditions we have around drinking are likely well established, you’ve probably been doing the same things together for years for decades, and change will feel uncomfortable. That’s okay too. You can handle discomfort. And I promise you if you focus your attention on the stories you’re telling yourself, and you don’t just try to white knuckle it through the next family celebration. You can find things that bring you joy from gathering that have nothing to do with drinking. Go into the next event with a plan. Put on your scientific observer hat and watch your brain go to work. Be ready to redirect your thinking and recognize any discomfort as something that’s totally normal that you can absolutely allow to be there. Be aware of old thoughts that are trying to keep you stuck in a habit that doesn’t serve you. If you are someone like me, who comes from a long line of drinkers if you are a child of an alcoholic parent or an alcoholic grandparent, or if your family simply never seems to make it through a dinner or a holiday without a bottle of wine or multiple bottles of wine. Right? If that’s the line you come from. I encourage you step out of line. Create a new path. Change your direction decide choose to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. All right, that is all I have for you this week, my friends. Until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated Add to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com